Koalas arrive in Longleat for the first time as part of mission to protect them from becoming endangered

The koalas touched down in Heathrow Airport and were transported to Wiltshire's Longleat Safari Park Credit: Longleat Safari Park

Five koalas from Australia have finally arrived in Longleat as part of a conservation mission.

It's hoped the move will help protect the species, and prevent them from becoming endangered.

The iconic koalas from South Australia, along with two wombats, touched down at Heathrow Airport on Thursday (11 October), accompanied by keepers from the safari park and a team of vets.

In 2012, Koalas were listed as 'vulnerable to extinction' in some parts of Australia. Credit: ITV West Country

Longleat's famous zebra-striped Safari vehicles picked up the animals and drove them back to the park, where they are apparently settling in well.

Graeme Dick, head of Animal Adventures at Longleat, says:

"This is the culmination of a two-year project and the beginning of an exciting new era. We hope these animals will act as conservation ambassadors for the species, and promote conservation and education about Australian marsupials."

Visitors to Longleat Safari Park will be able to meet the Koalas in their home from Spring 2019 Credit: Longleat Safari Park

This project is part of an initiative launched by the Government of South Australia and hopes to enable valuable research into the vital conservation of the Koala.

Longleat are now the European hub for the new International Koala Centre of Excellence, IKCE, and the only place to see the animal in England. They are also the only place in Europe to house southern koalas.

They will spend around six months away from visitors, settling into their new home which will open to visitors from Spring 2019.